The coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Rob Picheta, Peter Wilkinson, Ivana Kottasová, Sophie Tanno, Adrienne Vogt and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 5:42 p.m. ET, May 6, 2023
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7:12 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

A controversial public homage begins, after the Church's initial plans were met with a backlash

From CNN's Issy Ronald

At this point in the service, people around the UK are invited to pledge allegiance to the newly crowned King – a new innovation that was met with some skepticism and controversy when it was unveiled in the weeks before the service.

The Archbishop of Canterbury swears fealty first, before Prince William kneels before his father to give his own homage.

In previous coronations, these two moments were followed by royal dukes and other peers also pledging allegiance to the monarch — but this has been scrapped for Charles’ coronation, according to the Church of England's liturgy.

Instead, for the first time, the Archbishop invites the general public watching and listening to the ceremony in both the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth to pledge their own allegiance to the king.

A public backlash: When those plans were unveiled, it caused some controversy around the country – and the Church of England has changed the wording of its invitation following the response.

In keeping with a revised text of the liturgy for the coronation service, published Saturday by Lambeth Palace, the archbishop said: “I now invite those who wish to offer their support to do so, with a moment of private reflection, by joining in saying ‘God save King Charles’ at the end, or, for those with the words before them, to recite them in full.”
The full pledge reads: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”

The earlier version had been described as “ill-advised” by Jonathan Dimbleby, a veteran broadcaster and prominent friend of the King.

“I can think of nothing that he would find more abhorrent. He’s never wanted to be revered. He’s never wanted, so far as I know, to have anyone pay homage to him except in mock terms as a joke,” Dimbleby told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program on Friday.

7:05 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

Fanfare rings out as Charles III is crowned as King

Gun salutes are being fired from 13 locations across the UK including Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and on deployed Royal Navy ships, as King Charles III is crowned.

The largest, a 62-round salute, is happening from the Tower of London. A six-gun salute is underway at Horse Guards Parade and 21 rounds are being fired at the remaining locations.

The bells of Westminster Abbey are ringing out to celebrate the historic moment.

7:22 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

BREAKING: King Charles III is crowned

From CNN's Rob Picheta

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby places St. Edward's Crown upon Charles III's head on Saturday.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby places St. Edward's Crown upon Charles III's head on Saturday. Jonathan Brady/Pool/AP

For the first time in seven decades, a new British monarch has been formally crowned.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed St. Edward's Crown upon Charles III's head, the most significant part of the coronation service.

As he prepared to do so, Welby said: "King of kings and Lord of lords, bless, we beseech thee, this Crown, and so sanctify thy servant Charles, upon whose head this day thou dost place it for a sign of royal majesty, that he may be crowned with thy gracious favour and filled with abundant grace and all princely virtues; through him who liveth and reigneth supreme over all things, one God, world without end. Amen."

After crowning the King, Welby said: "God Save the King."

It's the only time Charles will ever wear St. Edward's Crown, which is reserved for the coronation of a new monarch.

6:53 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

A new, sacred phase of the service – the investiture – begins

From CNN's Hafsa Khalil

Charles is being presented with the coronation regalia, including the royal Robe and Stole, as the next part of the service, the investiture, gets underway.

Among these symbolic and priceless objects is the Sword of Offering, or Jewelled Sword, which is being carried and presented by a woman, British lawmaker Penny Mordaunt, for the first time since it was first used in the coronation of King George IV.

The sword was made in 1820 and is protected by a gold-covered leather scabbard, according to the Church of England's liturgy.

The Archbishop of Canterbury blesses the sword before it is delivered to the king on the condition it is used for the protection of good, and then offered to the altar. The Jewelled Sword represents the other swords displayed in the coronation: The Sword of State, the Sword of Spiritual Justice, and the Sword of Mercy, also known as Curtana.

According to the Church of England, the sword has dual meaning: It's meant to symbolize defense of the defenseless and also represent the word of God, which St. Paul compares to a sharp sword in the Bible.

Other objects in the investiture are the Armills, also known as the Bracelets of Sincerity and Wisdom, the Orb, and the Sceptre and Rod. This is the final stage before the crowning.

You can see photos and learn more about the priceless symbols involved in the King's coronation here.

7:09 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

The most sacred part of the service is happening now – out of sight

From CNN's Hafsa Khalil

An anointing screen is erected for King Charles III during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday.
An anointing screen is erected for King Charles III during his coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday. Press Association/AP Images

The third and most sacred phase of the service, the anointing, is underway.

It began with the King and Queen kneeling at the Chairs of Estate, as the choir sang in English, Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish. The Archbishop of Canterbury led a short prayer.

Now, the most dramatic part of the ceremony is starting. It is the only section that is taking place away from the crowds, cameras and sharp-eyed photographers.

What's happening: The Dean of Westminster pours holy oil from the Ampulla, a gold eagle-shaped flask, on to the Coronation Spoon, and then the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints Charles on his head, breast and hands, according to the Church of England's liturgy.

The 12th-century, silver-gilt spoon is the oldest object used in coronations, having survived the obliteration of royal regalia during the English Civil War. By contrast, the Ampulla was most likely melted down. A new one was created for King Charles II’s coronation in 1661, following the restoration of the monarchy the year before.

The anointing takes place behind a three-sided screen, hidden from view while Charles is seated on the Coronation Chair.

In the background, the Choir of Westminster Abbey sings the anthem "Zadok the Priest" by George Frideric Handel, which was composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727 and performed at every British coronation since.

6:49 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

"The King is crowned to serve," Welby says in sermon

King Charles III and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the coronation ceremony.
King Charles III and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the coronation ceremony. Andrew Matthews/Pool/Reuters

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is reading a sermon, bringing the second part of the ceremony to an end.

"We are here to crown a King, and the King is crowned to serve," he said at the start of the sermon.

He honors many of those in attendance for their charity, community and military work, and singles out 400 "extraordinary young people" who have been selected to watch from nearby St. Margaret’s Church.

6:32 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

A gospel choir has never sung at a coronation – until now

Sarah Mullally, Dean of His Majesty’s Chapels Royal, has read the Gospel.

The reading is bookended by a two-part composition by the prolific British composer Debbie Wiseman – best-known for her TV and film work – called "Alleluia (O Clap your Hands)" and "Alleluia (O Sing Praises)."

The second part of the work is sung by the Ascension Choir, and it's another first – the first time that a gospel choir has sung at a coronation.

6:44 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

Rishi Sunak reads a Bible passage

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla's coronation ceremony.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla's coronation ceremony. Phil Noble/Pool/Reuters

Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister, is conducting a reading from the Bible.

It comes from the Epistle to the Colossians:

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
6:40 a.m. ET, May 6, 2023

Charles prays aloud – the first time a monarch has done so at a coronation

From CNN's Rob Picheta

King Charles III during his coronation ceremony.
King Charles III during his coronation ceremony. Jonathan Brady/Pool/Reuters

King Charles has read a prayer out loud, becoming the first monarch to do so at a coronation.

It's followed by the Gloria from the Mass for Four Voices by the Renaissance composer William Byrd.

Here's the prayer he read:

"God of compassion and mercy whose Son was sent not to be served but to serve, give grace that I may find in thy service perfect freedom and in that freedom knowledge of thy truth. Grant that I may be a blessing to all thy children, of every faith and belief, that together we may discover the ways of gentleness and be led into the paths of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."